News and Media


Oman’s Suhail al Kulaibi walks and lifts his way to glory

The path to glory for Suhail al Kulaibi, Oman’s first weightlifter to win gold at the Arab Games in Doha in December 2011 has not been easy. The daily walk of nearly 10km to reach the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex gymnasium for training from his house in Muscat, capital of Sultanate of Oman, are still afresh in his memories for the 28 year old. “My love affair with the sport began in 1999 when I used to accompany my brother to the stadium for his training sessions. I was thin boy with a weight of 45kg those days. But I picked up the sport quickly as I found a good mentor and coach in Rushdie Wahba, an Egyptian, who had come to Oman as a physical fitness trainer,” remembered Suhail. “I started with powerlifting but soon moved to weightlifting and in 2002 I got my first breakthrough with the national team when I participated at the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) championships. [The competition features players from six GCC nations- Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait]. I picked up six medals, which included two silver and bronze medals in junior and senior 56kg category,” said Suhail. However, it was the performance (one silver and two bronze) in Arab weightlifting championships in Syria 2003 that made the Oman weightlifting committee take note of him and he was provided an official transport for training. Till then it was walking or hitch hiking on friend’s car to attend training. The lifter, who now works in Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO), owes a lot of his success to Rushdie Wahba, who left Oman in 2009. “He was my guide, coach and a friend. I learned a lot from him not only in the sport but also how to lead a disciplined life,” Suhail said. With a large family to support, Suhail skipped a government scholarship offer to go to college and picked up a job in 2006 before moving to RAFO in 2008. The lifter continued to climb up the ladder of success and won three gold medals at the Arab championships in Jordan (2009) and GCC championships in Bahrain (2010). A delay in nominating him from Oman for the world championships in France last year deprived him a platform to showcase his potential at the world stage but he turned the disappointment into joy when he claimed the first gold medal for Oman at the Arab Games in weightlifting. Suhail credits his recent success to coach Hossein Tavakkoli. The Iranian, who won gold in the men's 105kg class at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has been training Oman's weightlifters over the last three months. “He is a true professional. He is an experienced lifter and also understands us well. He motivates us a lot and has helped us set new personal and national records. When I lifted the weights in Doha to win the gold in clean and jerk (133kg) and snatch (110), I myself couldn’t believe but the coach had faith in me. I am now aiming to qualify for the London Olympics,” he said. Suhail hopes to take part in the Asian championships in South Korea in March and achieve the mark to be on board for London. “We are training daily six hours and I hope to make it to London. My aim is to achieve a medal at Asian and world championships and if backed properly and given the needed exposure, I believe I can do it.” In his leisure time, Suhail, who is married and has two daughters, relaxes by going for a swim or reading books. Ashok Purohit, Sports Editor, Muscat

2011 Best Lifter of the Year, Khadzimurat Akkaev

Emphasizing maximum results While some lifters focus on showmanship or approach the barbell with a degree of hesitation, Khadzimurat Akkaev attacks the bar, brimming with confidence - ready to lift whatever is needed for the victory. It is the mark of an outstanding lifter, being a top competitor. He won the silver (2004) and the bronze medal (2008) in the 94kg category. He has moved up into105kg and the change of bodyweight category paid off. The 26-year-old Russian lifter Khadzimurat Akkaev was the editor’s pick for producing the most impressive performance at the 2011 European Championships and at the 2011 IWF World Championships Paris, France, as he pounded through six good attempts, producing very respectable numbers in the snatch, clean and jerk, and Total (195kg+230kg in Kazan and 198kg+232kg in Paris). Akkaev stands 178 cm and he told me that he plans to stay at 105 kg, where his best lifts in training are 201 kg in the snatch (without straps) and 235 kg in the clean and jerk. Asked about the likely composition of the Russian team in 2012, Akkaev said that it is very possible that two lifters will be entered in the 105kg bodyweight category. Khadzimurat has said that his brother was his biggest influence, explaining, “My brother trained and I wanted to be there with him,” so at the ripe age of 11, Khadzimurat started training, one of a group of 39 kids. One year later, as a 12-year old, he won his first contest, snatching 47kg and clean and jerking 67kg at 45kg bodyweight. His coach through all these years has been Maxim Makkaev, and they follow 10 workouts per week, with each session lasting 1-1/2–2 hours. Akkaev said they take a basic approach, emphasizing maximum snatches and maximum clean and jerks: “If I make 200 today, I will try 201 the next day.” Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D. Publisher & Editor-in-chief Milo 19.2

2011 Best Lifter of the Year, Svetlana Tsarukaeva

The road to victory Svetlana Tsarukaeva has set a World Record while lifting the gold medal in the women’s 63kg bodyweight category at the 2011 IWF World Championships Paris, France. Tsarukaeva’s Snatch of 117kg beat the previous mark of 116kg, set by Pawina Thongsuk of Thailand back in 2005. Her World Record of 117 kg helped to remember another unforgettable moment of Tsarukaeva, made her so disappointed three years ago in Beijing. As a silver medallist of the previous two World Championships in 2006 (58kg), 2007 (63kg) she was one of the favorites in the women’s 63kg final, but she failed in her final attempt to snatch 107kg. Clasping her head in her hands, she left the stage in Beijing with an inconsolable sadness. A year later she became a silver medallist at the Goyang World Championships for the third time (2009). Svetlana was very hungry for her first victory. The 24-year-old Tsarukaeva (born 25 December 1987) lifted 138kg in the clean and jerk and ended up with a Total of 255kg in Paris. "My journey to this victory was very long. I was always close, but lacked some kilos or my own extra grams,” Tsarukaeva said. “This time it all worked out well. I’m full of emotions. At this time all was well-developed. At last the luck was on my side. I realized that if not today, then perhaps I’ll never do this." "In 2011 my career reached its peak as I became a European, Russian and later World Champion as well and World Record holder. I did exactly what I wanted to realize at the beginning of 2011.My motivation was extremely strong." Q: Though you have the knowledge which could lead to victory; do you plan any changes during your preparations to the London Olympics? A: I know my weak points and my coach, Kazbek Zoloev (48 years old) helps me a lot to reach my final goal step by step. The day after winning the gold medal I was aware of the fact I have to develop my performance otherwise my rival will overtake. I must be as perfect as possible in London. It is not an easy task; especially taking into consideration that I also have another obligation: to prepare my thesis on athletes’ recovery after top performances. Q: If you are an expert in this topic, would you recall how you recovered after the World Championships? A: The pressure was really almost unbearable. I missed my family and my school friends in Vladikavkaz and of course the best way to return to normal life was to meet them as frequently as I could. Q: Are there any more weightlifters in your family or among your schoolmates? A: No, unfortunately not. My grandmother used to be a sprint runner and my brother practiced free style wrestling. I started my training as an arm-wrestler and as we shared our training hall with weightlifters, their world attracted me more so I switched over to weightlifting. But I will never forget my first sport, as my coach Kazbek Zoloev is a multiple arm-wrestling World